Black law grads trail in employment overall and in bar-passage-required jobs, new NALP report finds

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Black law graduates in the class of 2019 had the lowest overall employment rates among all racial and ethnic groups and lower employment in bar-passage-required jobs than white graduates, according to new findings by the National Association for Law Placement.

NALP found that Pacific Islander and white graduates had the highest employment rates, at 92.9% and 92.1%, respectively. Black graduates had the lowest employment rate, at 85.4%. NALP’s findings on class of 2019 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools are summarized in an Oct. 21 press release.

NALP also found disparities in jobs for which bar passage is required or anticipated. White graduates had the highest rate of employment in these jobs, at 79.8%, compared to a rate of 62.4% for Black graduates.

Median starting salaries for employed graduates ranged from about $62,000 for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander graduates to $125,000 for Asian graduates, who had greater levels of employment in private practice.

The median salary was $71,000 for white employed graduates and $70,000 for Black employed graduates, according to Danielle Taylor, director of research at NALP.

NALP previously reported that the overall employment rate for the class of 2019 reached 90.3%, the highest since an employment rate of 91.9% for the class of 2007.

The percentage of graduates taking jobs for which bar passage is required or anticipated was 76.2%, up from 72.8% in 2018. The percentage of grads in full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage was at 74.3%.

The national median salary among those who reported pay was $72,500, up 3.6% from the class of 2018, and a little more than the previous all-time high of $72,000 for the classes of 2008 and 2009.

The press release also reports:

• By gender, women had the highest employment rate, at 90.6%, but men had a higher median salary. The median salary was $75,000 for men, $70,000 for women and $67,500 for nonbinary graduates.

• Graduates with disabilities had a lower overall employment rate, at 84.9%, and a lower rate of employment in jobs for which bar passage is required or anticipated, at 64.1%.

James Leipold, executive director at NALP, commented in the press release.

“I find it particularly discouraging this year to have to report employment findings that highlight stark disparities by race and ethnicity, among other demographic markers, but this should serve as a wake-up call to everyone involved in legal education and the legal profession,” Leipold said.

“In a year when the overall class secured jobs and salaries at higher rates than we have seen since before the Great Recession, many subsets of graduates, but especially Black law school graduates, still meet with lower levels of success in the job market than the rest of the graduate pool.”

The NALP report, Jobs & JDs, Employment and Salaries of New Graduates, Class of 2019, is available for purchase at the NALP bookstore.

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